After a lull during the COVID-19 pandemic, eviction filings came roaring back, driven by rising rents and a long-running shortage of affordable housing. Most low-income tenants can no longer count on pandemic resources that kept them housed, and many are finding it hard to recover because they haven’t found steady work or their wages haven’t kept pace with the rising cost of rent, food and other necessities. As a result, in many parts of the county homelessness is rising.
“Across the country, low-income renters are in an even worse situation than before the pandemic due to things like massive increases in rent during the pandemic, inflation and other pandemic-era related financial difficulties,” said Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a research specialist at Princeton University’s Eviction Lab.
Eviction filings are more than 50% higher than the pre-pandemic average in some cities, according to the Eviction Lab, which tracks filings in nearly three dozen cities and 10 states. Landlords file around 3.6 million eviction cases every year. Among the hardest-hit are Houston, where rates were 56% higher in April and 50% higher in May. In Minneapolis/St. Paul, rates rose 106% in March, 55% in April and 63% in May. Nashville was 35% higher and Phoenix 33% higher in May; Rhode Island was up 32% in May.
In Milwaukee, meanwhile, evictions were slightly below pre pandemic averages in April and May, yet above average in January and March. Eviction protections in Wisconsin began to expire on May 26, 2020. Following that, filings increased, reaching their peak in February 2022, where eviction filings were 81 percent higher than the same month pre-pandemic.
Nationwide, eviction trends in 2023 mirror trends that started in 2022, with the Eviction Lab finding nearly 970,000 evictions filed in locations it tracks — a 78.6% increase compared to 2021, when much of the country was under an eviction moratorium. By December, eviction filings were nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimating a 7.3 million shortfall of affordable units nationwide.
Additionally, over $46.5 billion in federal Emergency Rental Assistance that helped tenants pay rent and funded other tenant protections. Much of that has been spent or allocated, and calls for additional resources failed to gain traction in Congress.
Data from the Eviction lab shows in Milwaukee shows over the past year blacks are being evicted more than any other group in the city.
Associated Press writers Michael Casey and RJ Rico contributed to this report.